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How to Find the Best Food Store for You
What is the best food store? It’s the one that satisfies your needs, budget, and tastes. But tastes change, prices matter and convenience always counts. Whether you are searching out the right ingredients for a nice meal for two, or running out for a late-night snack, there are food stores for each situation and everything in between Below you’ll find the most common types of food stores that may fit your requirements and ways to save money on grocery shopping.
The Most Common Types of Food Stores
To be completely sure where to buy your food, it’s better to set your priorities. What matters to you the most: price, diversity in food choices, or convenience? Check the most popular food stores for any preference.
Food Stores with the Best Overall Prices
Prices are the most important feature for hardworking parents with ravenous teenage children and retirees on fixed incomes. For those managing their hard-earned money, look at these options first.
- Local supermarkets provide good selections on basic staples. They also tend to carry the most popular brands for regional tastes. There are no surprises here. These stores know their demographic and sell the same basic foods at the same general prices to the same customers for decades.
- Warehouse stores don’t have fantastic selections, but they sell in bulk at volume discounts. Sometimes up to 10%. If you decide to start juicing vegetables and need a twenty-five-pound bag of carrots, you might consider a warehouse store. Or when your troop of hungry teenagers and their friends raid the pantry, you will be glad for the savings bulk food stores provide. The problem though can be portions. Consider the space in your home and whether you will want to eat the same thing for quite a long time.
- Club stores offer bulk prices similar to warehouse stores, but they have better selections, high-quality meats, plus household and lifestyle products, like fire extinguishers and lawn furniture. You can buy everything in one place. One caveat—if you are not buying enough merchandise to save the cost of the membership, usually between 40 and 100 dollars annually, then a club store might not be right for you.
Top Food Stores with the Best Food Selection
Say that you would like to prepare a flank steak with an authentic Argentinean chimichurri sauce. Typical butcher departments at supermarkets, warehouse and club stores seldom carry these rarer cuts of beef. Besides that, where will you find all the fresh herbs and sea salt for the chimichurri?
Those with adventurous palettes, who enjoy the cooking process, might have better luck finding the special ingredients by narrowing their search to these kinds of stores.
- National chain supermarkets have farther reaching distribution lines than local groceries which allow them to stock a wider variety of gourmet products. Their world sections are larger, too. Proper fish batter from England, molé from Mexico, dashi stock from Japan. However, overall prices there are higher.
- Specialty food stores sell to specific markets. Religious, ethnic and health food stores carry those products that make a dish Halal, Thai, or vegan. You have to search for these shops, but when there is no substitute for authenticity, specialty food stores are worth the effort.
- Online food stores offer convenience on the hardest to find products. Try finding a Marula beer outside of Africa. The downsides are obvious. You must trust the company that will deliver the product that you ordered. There are shipping adds to the overall costs, and you have to wait for your ingredients. If time, expense and reliability are insubstantial, then the flavors you want are as near as your phone.
Top Food Stores and Services for Convenience
Life can get hectic and time to compare shops is absorbed in an abyss of appointments, deadlines, and chores. For those with hardly a moment to breathe there are options.
- Delivery services are broaching the grocery business. For a fee, food and supplies can be shipped to your door. This is especially helpful for those unable to carry heavier items like bags of pet food and gallons of milk. Delivery services are gaining momentum and many traditional retailers are joining the competition by offering their own versions.
- Convenience stores are not the places to do your grocery shopping, but they fill an enduring niche. When you want food and drinks fast, the convenience store tops the list. Everybody knows that they can get a better price anyplace else; however, the immediacy is the primary draw. There are no other food stores that can deliver quicker gratification.
Best Ways to Save Money on Grocery Shopping
For those who are stretching a fixed income, here the simplest tips to save money on groceries:
- Make a list. Remembering what to buy while wandering a store is a recipe for impulse buying. Form lists of products you need to buy as those supplies run out. Best of all, an updated list means that anybody in a household can buy the right things from the right places at the right times.
- Add up coupons. Compare the coupon circulars against your lists (another reason lists help) to save on the products that are the most important to you. Coupons and coupon websites can also bring the price on a non-essential item you’ve been wanting down to a place that feels right within your budget.
- Skip ready-made food. Bagged salads are far more expensive by weight than the sum of their ingredients. Make your own salads and save. Soups and stews can be extremely cheap. A large pot of a hearty lentil soup that feeds six can be made for less than ten dollars. A five-pound bag of potatoes can cost as much as two loose potatoes. And of course, rice. Rice is easy to prepare, cheap and goes with everything.
- Be cautious while shopping. The unaware shopper is a prime target for profit margins. Produce is always placed at the opposite side of the store from milk and eggs so that shoppers will have to look at hundreds of tantalizing overpriced products traveling between. Center isles and check-out racks have the most expensive products. Roam around the outside aisles and look at products above and below eye level for the affordable items.
- Come prepared to save. Leave children at home when possible. They will want something, usually, sweat with cartoonish packaging and always overpriced. Try not to shop on an empty stomach. Hunger prompts impulse buying. And remember to bring your reusable bags, your coupons, and your lists.
Tastes, occasions, personal finances, and priorities - there are too many factors differentiating individual needs and spending habits to declare one food store the single best.
The savvy shopper will take advantage of all the best qualities in each of these categories. And a little planning can help save you money and time.